Safer at Home Journal For My Kids, by Kat

From the mind of a far better writer than I, here is Kat of The Lily Café‘s beautiful perspective of this Coronavirus year, in a journal letter to her children:

Dear Kids,

We had so many plans at the beginning of 2020. Museums, beaches, lots of time with your grandparents, a trip to see some cousins up north, zoo visits, and Disneyland at least 3 times. There was Kindergarten graduation, a fun summer, and the start of compulsory school for Brother to look forward to (the last more for Sister and Mom than Brother). It was going to be a fun year.

And then something happened at the end of last year. People in China were getting sick from something unknown. Kids, it turned out to be the coronavirus. Since we have friends and relatives in China, I kept a close eye on it. I watched it spread in Washington and then Northern California. It was only a matter of time before it hit us in L.A.

We had a month and a half before people started to worry, before cases here started to be due to community spread in early March. Our school district was the first to shut down. Honestly, I was ready to pull Brother before then because Dad works with people who travel a lot and I was afraid of infecting his classmates and teachers. Thankfully, the district decided to close for at least 2 weeks.

It turned out to be a lot longer than 2 weeks. It was the rest of the school year. It broke my heart hearing Brother and all of his classmates ask when they were going to be able to go back to school. Back then, school was weird. We were given a list of assignments to complete each day and class was only 30 minutes twice a week. Though it was fun to watch them prepare for graduation. Still, being home instead of the classroom was rough.

The week after the school district closed, our mayor shut down the city. The county and the state followed. We weren’t just doing school from home, we were also stuck at home. It was eerie to see the streets so empty. Weird that Dad took the freeway to and from work because there was suddenly no traffic. Strange to not be able to go to the market every week. Bizarre that Dad had to wait an hour or more outside stores in a long line before he could dash in and get one thing.

March turned into AprilMayJuneJulyAugust. I’m sure it’s the 200th day of March by now. Not really, but it feels like it sometimes. Masks started making their rounds and people couldn’t hug or shake hands anymore. Inside, it got louder with Brother home and Sister becoming more vocal and active as she turned 3. Sister’s was our first pandemic birthday in our family and it was weird to do it over Zoom, but we did get to see relatives who live far away, so there’s one silver lining to this whole pandemic thing.

Summer was almost agonizing. Restrictions started being lifted, reopenings began to roll out. More people emerged from their homes. And then the protests started. Protests for racial justice. Protests calling for police reform. Protesters gathering with and without masks. It was inevitable that cases were going to rise, the deaths were going to rise, the hospitalizations were going to rise. And they did. They all did. Public Health seemed to freak out, and back into our homes we were forced.

Not that it changed much for us. Dad still went to work on a modified schedule and the rest of us just stayed home. No beach trips, no Disneyland trips, just weekly Zoom sessions with family. Since we live in a densely populated area, even going out for walks freaked me out. Being high risk just made me want to stay inside and press myself against windows to soak up every bit of sunshine instead. But it did help that it was just too hot to go outside.

But, with the rise in cases, reopenings turned into more restrictions and closures. And more protests to protest that. We did manage to go out for dinner in early July, near the beach, but I spent the next two weeks anxiously waiting to see if any of us developed symptoms. It was too exhausting, so I decided we were never doing that again.

School started in late August. Fully online. Zoom classes 9-12 Monday-Friday. Asynchronous (school work) became our new least favorite word. Though I have enjoyed getting a bird’s eye view into class for Brother. I love knowing exactly what he’s doing, what he’s supposed to be learning. I hate that he’ll only do his asynchronous work as long as I do it alongside him. I feel like I’m back in First Grade, but that’s kind of okay because I don’t even remember being in First Grade. I’ve loved seeing Brother’s progress. It’s been hard on Sister, though, because she has to keep quiet and I keep going back and forth between her and Brother. She does like to try to get involved in class, though, and I wonder if she’ll remember any of the things Brother is learning. She keeps saying she’s ready for school and wants to go to First Grade. First on the list, though, is becoming fully potty trained. Oh yes, distance learning and potty training have been a real ball. Kids, I do not recommend this. If you remember your mother being a complete nutcase, this is why.

But people have become tired, restless, and disgruntled. As an introvert, I love not being obligated to be anywhere, not having to socialize, and, honestly, neither of you have really complained. But not everyone is like us. And not everyone likes wearing masks. Or keeping their distance. As the year winds down, we’re in a really bad place. Look, my asthma makes wearing a mask difficult. I can’t wear one for more than 30 minutes before I start feeling lightheaded. My inhaler is my accessory. But I’d rather suffer than be infected or infect someone else. So I get mad when I see people not wearing masks, hear people gathering, watch people get close to each other when they don’t live together. I suffer because I want to survive the pandemic, and I can’t help but feel people are too self-centered to do the things that actually protect people, loved ones, so I get angry, and now we’re in trouble. I’m sorry if all you remember from this time is me complaining about people. It’s been so hard keeping both of you inside and I’m sure you’re dreaming of playgrounds, but just thinking of all the unsafe things people are doing when Dad and I are both high risk makes me too anxious.

Deep breath. Kids, as I write this, we’re basically back on lockdown. Our governor, idiot and hypocrite though he is, has divided the state into regions and decided that, should the percentage of available ICU beds drop below 15%, the whole region will go back into a stay at home order. That happened in early December for us. The last number I had was 5% of ICU beds in the Southern California region were available. That was December 12th. We wear masks, stay home, and keep our distance in order to protect our healthcare workers. Part of me wants to be mean and hope people start going to the hospitals, only to find there are no beds available and not enough healthcare workers to take care of them. But that is a terrible thought. Instead, I’m wishing, hoping, and praying we can finally do what we need to do in order to actually save lives.

We broke 10,000 cases in one day on December 6th; 12,000 on December 10th; and 13,000 on December 11th. That was our county alone. It’s been climbing. Hospitalizations are at an all time high. Deaths are starting to creep up. There is absolutely no way we’re going anywhere any time soon. Dad is even working from home more often now. This is so much worse than it was over the summer, and, honestly, I’m scared. What if Dad and I do become infected? We’re both high risk and we would both end up in the ICU. If there are beds left. At this point, getting infected would be a death sentence for us. And we’d leave both of you orphans. It’s scary, and it makes me mad. It makes me want to lash out at people. I’m scared silly of leaving both of you alone, and I’m hoping that, as you’re reading this, I’m still alive and well. And I’m hoping I’m not scaring you too much, but, well, this is what life is like right now. History in the making, I suppose.

Kids, right now, you’re 3 and 6. Both of you are homebodies, so not much is new. Yes, you miss the zoo, beaches, museums, and Disneyland, but I’m so proud of Brother for being so aware that it doesn’t actually bother him. Sister is just too young to realize things are different. Dad and I aren’t hiding anything from you, but we are doing our best to protect you, protect ourselves. I’m hoping your memories of this time are hazy, and you’re focusing more on Christmas right now than how bad our country is. And, oh, yeah, this was an election year. No real clue what’s going on with that, but I’ll update you on January 20, 2021.

But some good things have happened. The US is back to sending astronauts to space from American soil. We got to watch the last SpaceX-NASA test flight with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins via Zoom, as well as the first actual crewed flight to the ISS in mid-November. If anyone asks, the astronauts were in quarantine before leaving Earth, and we’re pretty sure the ISS is the safest place for humans right now.

My darlings, I wish things were different. I wish things were better. But, most of all, I wish you don’t remember this by the time you’re old enough to read this. I especially hope you don’t remember my fear, worry, anger, and frustration, but, if you or your kids have a history project on this point in history, yes, it was really rough. On the bright side, a vaccine is rolling out (shipped December 13th!), with widespread availability by the summer. As scared as I still am, I can’t help but have my fingers crossed you’ll both be in school in the Fall. Safely, of course. Otherwise, if you end up being homeschooled, this is why. If I’ve learned anything this past year, life is all about those silver linings, the little bright spots, and I hope you’ve learned that, too. If not, better hop to it! Mom’s orders.

Love always,
Mom

©2020 Kat of The Lily Café

Photo by Jan Kopu0159iva on Pexels.com

Kat is an intelligent, analytical, creative, thoughtful, honest, and caring writer. She blogs about everything from book reviews to ratio baking to her detailed approach to motherhood to her own serial story, Queen of the Garden Girls. In her spare time, she promotes other bloggers and reads and comments on their work. Kat is also a wife, and mother to two beautiful children. I’ve had the great pleasure to know her since stumbling across her site with my mothering one. Thank you, Kat.

7/20/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Last time I checked in, I shared Utah’s rising case numbers. Things are looking up since then.

And I do mean “up.” Our all-time high was 867 in one day, reported just two days after I wrote. Fortunately, we’re back to numbers like 736, 731, and 788 for the last three beautiful, blue bars of that graph.

I’ve had a bad headache today since the baby awoke at 2 a.m., compounded by another awakening at 5 a.m. As with anytime I’ve felt a little off, I’m paranoid I’ve got The ‘Rona. That figures, since I still do grocery pickup, mask when I go to a public place, and have not agreed to family invitations to public places. Heck; we’ve gotten takeout five times in the last four months.

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Pizza: The American Meal. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We did attend church last Sunday. We LDS normally attend every Sunday; with a communal meeting that includes eating bread and drinking water (sacrament) passed around on trays, then a second meeting by age and gender group afterward. Sunday’s meeting was only The Sacrament. We sat with a bench between other family groups. We all wore masks, except Baby Owens. The bread and water trays remained in the hands of the boys distributing them. We even sang with masks on, reading from our individual phones instead of hymn books. Only the speaker unmasked as he shared a gospel message about spirituality from the podium at the front.

My parents also live in Utah, but their local leaders have not reinstated meetings. Ironically, their libraries and recreational centers (swimming pools, gyms) are in business. Different strokes for different counties, I guess.

—–

In terms of shortages and price increases, I’ve heard that hard currency is running low. The cashier at the kids’ clothing store told me, the internet told me, and the plastic partition at the hardware store told me.

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Perhaps you’ll accept galvanized nails in replacement, Lowe’s?

I was able to procure some antibacterial kitchen hand soap at Wal-Mart when I had to go inside. Being 5’8″ tall with long arms helped that procurement. I brought a bottle of hand sanitizer down for any shorter-armed shoppers that followed. The rest of their soaps were in short supply, as were any bottles of rubbing alcohol:

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Who needs antiseptics when you’ve got a lonely roll of gauze?

The biggest news, for me, is The School Issue. I mentioned, before, that I’m following a TwoFacebook Group concerned with returning children to their desks, come hell or high water. Members of said group were prominent at a recent meeting in Utah County, where they vociferously (and crowdedly) spoke in favor of no masks for their children. Since I know many teachers personally and would like them to remain healthy, I see no-masking to be a selfish, nearsighted opinion.

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Just one of the many, many inspiring and educated adults making decisions for her offspring.

Of all the ways to make the news, Utah, you have to pick this one…

I assumed, recently, that my more-conservative friends have seen the light. With stories about reinfection; with more people we actually know getting infected; with areas shutting back down to curb Coronavirus cases -SURELY opinions would change. Not so. One of my more vocal neighbors just posted, today, about articles against masking and how any legitimate information supporting that idea keeps “getting taken down.”

I know restricting or changing information happens. I’ve seen it. However, I also know that I, like other humans, breathe and cough and sneeze. As such, I’m in favor of wearing a mask, using my turn signal, and not randomly kicking strangers in the shins because it’s my right to do so.

In conclusion, here’s a funny image re-shared by a teacher friend on 2FB:

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Sorry; I’m not sure who came up with these. They’re pretty clever.

Images ©2020 Chelsea Owens, unless otherwise noted. Blog post ©2020 Chelsea Owens

7/9/2020 of COVID-19 Home Life

Welp; things are not looking good, number-wise, out here in do-it-yourself Utah.

Graph

Thanks, Coronavirus.utah.gov. What a lovely blue.

Wednesday marked the single, highest number of new cases reported in a day. Now, we’re no New York City. New York City has 2.5 times more population in it than our entire state. Still, that’s a bad growth rate unless we’re talking earned revenue in stocks.

I remember back when the world shut down, together. My occasional errands to the grocery store pickup or follow-up appointments for the baby were spent driving through nearly-empty streets and barricaded parking lots. Restaurants had signs about being closed and/or ordering online. Everyone locked up at nightfall, even Wal-Mart.

Yesterday, our family got caught in rush-hour traffic on our way up to visit my parents. What is this? I thought, then remembered. My parents and a sibling are two of the few places we go, and I assumed others were similarly, intentionally homebound.

Today, I went to my home-away-from-home: Costco. My experience there, in the last four months, has changed from an uneasy anxiety to over-zealous cleaning to a resigned impatience. A lot of the store has opened up again, sort-of. They still mandate wearing masks, although their cart-retrievers were not doing so outside. The workers at the gas station, outside, were also bare-faced. A woman stood at a samples table inside, though she only advertised her product and did not offer tastes. The food court area showed a simpler menu of two kinds of pizza, a hot dog meal, and three desserts; the condiments were stacked behind the cashier in tiny containers with lids.

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My poor Oxford comma.

Also today, a relative of mine visited with his children. They drove across the country to do so, and have also visited “things we can’t do back home,” like a hot springs resort and the local aquarium.

Another relative drove to one of Utah’s rural communities for their Fourth of July festivities. Word is that the city had a parade and threw candy.

Meanwhile, back in Salt Lake County, we’ve been mandated to wear masks in public. I haven’t seen any policemen to enforce this rule; I have seen nearly everyone complying. I heard that Utah’s governor thought to make the ruling statewide and looked for such information. Instead, I found he’d announced that everyone attending school in the fall will need to wear a mask.

He also said that, if we can’t be good little citizens and bring our case numbers down by August 1, he will put us in the corner -erm, make masks mandatory.

I don’t see what the big deal is, especially considering that our numbers keep rising. If the case counts were at least plateauing, I might agree with my more-conservative friends about their right to bare arms and faces. As things keep climbing, however, I say they’re being needlessly selfish about a small scrap of cloth.

mona lisa protection protect virus

Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko on Pexels.com

I see the rise in numbers being related to the rise in traffic, travel, and don’t-care attitudes. I want things to normalize again, too, people. I also want to avoid contracting a disease that permanently affects some or kills others.

COVID-19 aside, I’m keeping busy and enjoying my ‘break.’ How’s everything where you all are?

 

©2020 Chelsea Owens